Canadian artist and illustrator Felicia Atanasiu harbored a passion for the arts since her childhood in Romania. Developing into various disciplines such as fashion, editorial, advertising, portraiture and institutional illustration, Atanasiuâ€™s work has attracted various world-renowned clients including L’OrÃ©al and Vichy, not to mention the host of international fashion publications featuring her unique style. As a member of the Taxi Design Network and Saatchi Online, Atanasiu looks to consistently maintain her presence in the world of design, and within the public eye.
â€œThe institution of art is not going to make anyone an artist. But the artist could make up for the institution.â€
Format: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Felicia: My name is Felicia Atanasiu and I am a Toronto based illustrator and fine artist. I specialize in fashion, editorial, advertising and fine art.
Format: When did you discover that you were artistically gifted? Were arts and crafts your favorite childhood activity?
Felicia: I think artistic ability is something you are born with. I discovered that I loved drawing when I was about five years old. I would draw on every surface I could find, from walls to family photographs. I grew up in Bucharest, Romania in a time of political change from communism to democracy; my parents were never supportive of my artistic talent. To choose art as a career path was not an option for me.
Later in life, after I graduated from a high school, when everyone else was training to become a doctor, I decided to allow my passion for art and design to take over. I changed countries and moved to Toronto and started to pursue drawing and illustration right away. Arts and crafts would have been my favorite childhood activity, if only I was encouraged to do so.
Format: Have you had any formal art training?
Felicia: Soon after my arrival in Toronto, I signed up for life drawing classes and enrolled in a Fine Arts institution for about a year – I needed to build my portfolio. After that, I applied to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) to study illustration, and completed the 4-year degree program. I obtained my bachelorâ€™s degree in Design with a major in Illustration in 2007.
Format: Who are your favorite artists past and present?
Felicia: Marlene Dumas, Marcel Dzama, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Victor Man, Barnet Newman, Andy Warhol, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Julie Verhoeven, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and so many moreâ€¦ I also love to look at Byzantine Art, as it is part of my cultural heritage.
Format: As a Toronto based artist, how would you describe the art scene in Canada?
Felicia: I think that Toronto is a great city due to its complex multicultural scene. As an artist living in Toronto there are many new platforms for creative development and an obvious freshness in ideas and inspiration. This makes the local art scene very open-minded and exciting. However, from a very personal point of view, I find that sometimes, I feel the creative restraint because of Torontoâ€™s cultural newness and corporate constitution.
Format: What or who are your greatest inspirations?
Felicia: My greatest inspiration is my own disconnection with the time I was raised in, to the present time I live in. In other words, having a dual citizenship (Romanian/Canadian) creates a constant conflict and paradox between the new and the old. In my work, the traditional values of love and patriotism clash with the postmodern values of individualism and media infatuation. My love for Romania and the constant battle with this new land is something that affects my visual perceptions and stylistic representations.
The linear and patterned qualities of my work are pure reflections of the architecture and traditional motifs I was surrounded by when growing up. The watercolors and bright colors are an inspiration of my own existentialism: fragile, bright, fun, subtle, sensitive, fluid. The feminine streak that runs in my work is a representation of female empowerment through substance and human confidence. I also find the â€˜60s and â€˜70s very inspirational in terms of music, architecture, art, film and culture.
Format: Tell us about some of the fashion related projects you have worked on.
Felicia: My connection with fashion illustration is very interesting because this was my favorite â€˜assignmentâ€™ as a child. Now, I get commissioned by magazines to illustrate fashion and trend related content and I hope to expand on these sorts of projects, aiming for bigger, and more creatively challenging clients.
I think that in todayâ€™s creative community there is little distinction between disciplines and everything seems to translate — from fashion to advertising — in one visual language. I mean the same aesthetic that was once called fashion illustration could now be successfully used for a totally different purpose. This obsession with gloss and prettiness tends to break the boundaries that were once set. I think my work has a subtle element to it, which makes the aesthetic of fashion illustration a little more genuine.
Format: What are you currently working on?
Felicia: At the moment I am developing a series of fine art projects. I am also getting ready for a group show in New York this summer as well as working on my own t-shirt line that will be available in stores this year, and on top of this keeping at illustration and private commissions.
Format: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Felicia: I think that art should not be aspired to, but lived and felt. Being an artist is not a separate definition from being who you are. The institution of art is not going to make anyone an artist. But the artist could make up for the institution.
Format: Is there an underlying message or theme in your work?
Felicia: Absolutely. The constant message is truly the human experience in relationship to a specific environment, space and time. In terms of the applied art aspect of my career, the message is always there to intrigue and seduce the imagination.
More Info: www.feliciaatanasiu.com